The Geenen Homes Blog

Stop back for West Michigan focused articles and posts about buying a home, selling a home, and then making your home even better. If you ever need help or have a question about real estate, please don't hesitate to call/text Kyle at (616) 403-0909.

It’s officially Christmas season, which means it is time to for all of the fun, family-friendly Christmas activities! Here are some local, West Michigan events to put you in the Christmas spirit!

  1. Santa’s Shoppe at Home & Company – Time for the annual trip to see Santa! Home & Company invites you to visit Santa for free! You just need to bring your own camera for a picture. Click here for the schedule of when they are open: http://www.myhomeandcompany.com/visit-santa-for-free/
  2. The Live Nativity – The Critter Barn invites you to experience the story of Jesus Christ’s birth with costumed characters & live animals. Visit the animals, take in the display of Bethlehem & Galilee, & see photos of where Christ lived. Admission is free!
  3. Christmas at Cappon House – Come December 15 & 16 from 12-4PM to join in singing Christmas Carols, delight in listening to Christmas stories, decorate & eat holiday goodies, & create your own Christmas card or ornament. There are also Victorian era games and traditions. Tickets are $10 for non-members & $8 for members, children 5 & under are free. 
  4. Hughes Musical Christmas Show – Take the family to enjoy the spectacular light show at 10679 Deer Ridge Ct, Zeeland, MI 49464 through the end of December. Hours are 5:30-9PM Sunday-Thursday & 5:30PM-10PM Friday & Saturday. Tune into radio station 88.7 for Christmas music that corresponds with the light show. Admission is free, donations are accepted. More details – https://www.facebook.com/Hughes-Musical-Christmas-Show-10679-Deer-Ridge-Ct-Zeeland-487943604591192/

These Christmas specific events are coming to a close right after Christmas, so do not delay in getting the family out for some good fun to celebrate this joyous season!

 

Many people hear the term, “foreclosure,” but don’t really understand how foreclosures work and that there are different ways to purchase a foreclosure. A foreclosure occurs when a homeowner fails to pay multiple mortgage payments; therefore, the bank begins the process of repossessing the home.

Once a home is officially foreclosed, meaning the homeowner was unable to pay the bills after receiving a notice, there are three options for the bank to move forward with selling the foreclosed home.

The first option is called a short sale. This is when the homeowner is still involved and negotiates with the bank to work out a short sale. The short explanation of a short sale is that the bank/mortgage company allows the homeowner to sell the home for much less than what they owe. This allows a prospective buyer to purchase the home at a below market value price. However, finding a buyer can prove to be difficult as these homes are typically sold “as-is.”

The second option is selling the home at auction because the owner failed to make payments and decided against the short sale route. The bank delegates the minimum bid for the home, and prospective buyers will need to have at least 10% of the total purchase cost in order to purchase the home. However, even with a winning bid, the bank/mortgage company still has the right to decline the offer. In this route, the home is also sold “as-is.”

The third option for selling a foreclosure home is when the home becomes a “bank-owned” or “real-estate owned” property. Foreclosed homes are usually sold at a lower price point; however, they are typically all sold “as-is.” In addition, there is usually quite a bit of paperwork and a longer timeline involved as the sale needs to be approved by all the bank’s/mortgage company’s shareholders.

Navigating a purchase of a foreclosure is no easy task as it takes time, paperwork, and knowledge of the process to most efficiently secure an accepted contract. Give us a call today, we’d be more than happy to help you in your home search!

So,  you’re looking for a home. You go online and there are two kinds of homes, newer homes and older homes. Which do you want to call home? Here are some advantages and disadvantages to both types of homes.

First, let’s look at older homes.

Advantages:

  • More character: Older homes include styles like craftsman bungalows, victorian era, tudors, and colonials. These architectural styles mean older homes are adorned with arches, carved decorative appointments, and other various details that give the home more character.
  • Established neighborhood: Changes in zoning are less likely to occur in older, more established areas.
  • Mature landscaping: The longer a home has been around, the chances are the landscaping, i.e. trees & vegetation, are more developed and mature. This can provide bigger canopies in yards along with more lush landscaping.
  • Old-world construction: Many older homes have stood for decades, and in some cases, even centuries. These homes have seen many storms and all sorts of weather, yet still stand against time. This is because these homes were built with meticulous attention to detail and solid framing.
  • Location: Older homes are usually in closer proximity to downtowns, entertainment, and local restaurants because they were built around the city when it was established.

Disadvantages:

  • Upkeep: The older the home, the more wear and tear it has seen throughout various families and over the years. Things will go wrong, periodically, and there is always something to fix or replace. Some examples include roofs, chimneys, tuck pointing foundations, and sloping floors.
  • Smaller spaces: When older homes were built, people had less things and many families only had one car. This means that closets, storage spaces, and garages in older homes are typically smaller when compared to new construction homes.
  • Updates: In addition to general maintenance and upkeep of the home, older homes will require more updates in HVAC systems along with aesthetics in areas like the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Plumbing: Many times, the plumbing system of an older home has smaller, more galvanized pipes. This means water pressure can be lessened in the home and replacement may be needed.
  • Smaller square footage: Older homes were built with smaller rooms, so the square footage of an older home is going to be smaller than when compared to a newer home with the same number of rooms.

Next, let’s take a look at newer homes:

Advantages:

  • Less maintenance: New construction is meant to last awhile so there is going to be less upkeep, especially in the areas like HVAC and roof, which only requires replacement every 10-20 years.
  • Warranty: Many builders offer a new home warranty (often 10 years), which gives the buyer a safety net for the foundation, structure, and other components.
  • Energy efficient: Newer homes are built with walls, ceilings, and floors with newer & updated insulation, newer dual pane windows, and new appliances. All of these items help to cut back on energy usage, meaning warmer winters & cooler summers while spending less money.
  • City codes: Many old homes do not need to abide by certain building codes since they were built so long ago. Whereas, a new home needs to abide by the most up-to-date building codes that help ensure safety.
  • Square footage: The square footage of a new home is usually larger than an older home, even with the same number of bedrooms.

Disadvantages:

  • Cookie cutting: Many new homes are built within a development, which means all the neighboring homes are built by the same builder. This can result in cookie cutter homes that look nearly identical from exterior to the interior floor plan.
  • Young landscaping: It takes years for trees to grow, which means the newly planted trees of a new construction home are not yet mature. They will offer less shade. In addition, the lawns are still growing, which means they are going to be less lush that an established landscape of an older home.
  • House settling: Older homes have already settled, but new homes still need to settle over the years. Regardless of soil, this happens to all homes in some capacity. This can cause cracks in foundation, walls, and even door frames. Luckily, you will have a home warranty from the builder if these things happen in the first 5-10 years.
  • Distance from downtown: Newer homes are usually built in neighborhoods that are further away from the downtown area, restaurants, stores, etc. This could mean a longer commute to work in rush hour and a longer distance to things to do in the town.

While there are advantages and disadvantages of all kinds of homes, it does not mean one is less-than the other or should be avoided. They are simply different options depending on what you are looking for during your home search. Be sure to talk these differences and your desire in a home over with your realtor to determine what you would like to pursue in your home search.

As Thanksgiving day approaches, I am reminded of everyone and everything I am thankful for. I especially remember those who have helped me in my life journey and in my profession – from mentors who helped guide me, family members and friends who support me, and every client I have had the privilege to meet and build a relationship with in my line of work.

Though I am thankful every day, there is never enough opportunity for me to personally thank each and every one of you. With this season of gratitude through the coming Thanksgiving day, I want to personally express my deepest appreciation for my clients who place their confidence in me when buying or selling a home and who support my real estate team through both their friendships and referrals.

I wish you and your family a very safe and happy Thanksgiving this week. May you be reminded of all there is for us to be thankful for today, tomorrow, and in the year to come.

Blessings,

Kyle Geenen

Browsing for a new home online is a great place to begin when looking to move or buy a new home. However, simply looking online should not be your only method of your home search.  Here are some helpful tips to remember when you are house hunting online.

  1. Right site – Do some research to ensure you are using an up-to-date website for your house hunt. The site you search on needs to pull from the multiple listing service (MLS) that real estate agents use to post homes for sale, one example is Zillow. There are sites out there that are not up-to-date, which are showing old information, old listings, off-market listings, etc. Better yet, contact a real estate agent who can set up a portal for you that will show you all of the homes that meet your criteria directly from the MLS so that you are only seeing the most up-to-date information.
  2. Pictures – The pictures you see on a listing site can show you the highlights of a home and some truly tremendous features. However, looking online should not be your only go-to because pictures can be deceiving and they do not allow you to truly experience the home. There is always more to a home than what is shown in photos or videos. The pictures should act as a helper in determining whether or not you want to see a home in person and to get a better idea of if you want to put in an offer. 
  3. Showing – Once you have found some homes using an up-to-date site and gone through pictures to find homes you’re interested in, it’s time to set up a showing! Give a real estate professional a call to set up a showing to see the home in-person. This will allow you to explore the home, envision whether you could see yourself living there, and determine if it is truly the dream home for you. Any questions you may have can be directed towards your real estate agent who will ensure all your bases are covered!

These tips can be helpful in ensuring your online house hunting experience is positive and successful, coming full circle to an in-person showing and hopefully an accepted offer on your dream home!

Today is the first real snowfall in West Michigan! That means winter is right around the corner. With this cooler weather comes a lot of fun outdoor activities as well.

  1. Snowshoeing – The DeGraaf Nature center in Holland offers snowshoeing to the general public. The cost is $2 to use a pair of their snowshoes on their trails. 
  2. Sledding – There are many sledding hills in the area as well. One of the most popular sledding hills in Holland is at the historic farm, Van Raalte Farm Park. This is a free sledding hill open to the public. Note, there is a short walking distance from the parking lot to the hill. 
  3. Ice Skating – Grand Rapids has a cute outdoor skating rink called Rose Parks Circle. You can bring your own skates and pay a small fee to use the rink or you can rent skates there as well. It is quite beautiful at night when all of the Christmas lights and decorations are out. 
  4. Kerstmarkt Outdoor Holiday Market – “Experience a delightful outdoor European-style market with holiday items, delicious food and artisan demonstrations in Holland, Michigan. Located at the 8th Street Marketplace at the corner of 8th Street and Pine Avenue, weekends from November 17-December 8.’ There are bell ringers, dog sled demos, a parade of lights, and shopping.
  5. Holiday Open House – November 17 from 5-8PM come downtown Holland for carolers, freshly roasted chestnuts, photos with Santa Claus, and petting reindeer at the petting corral! At 8PM, head to 8th St. & Central Ave. for the annual tree lighting ceremony. A fun, free, family event to kick off the holiday season! 

These are just a handful of activities available for the remainder of 2018 in the lovely West Michigan area! Stay tuned in the coming weeks for another blog more focused on local Christmas activities.

Many people have heard the term home owners association (HOA), but not all people understand what all an HOA does or why having one can be an important role within a neighborhood.

An HOA is run by a board of individuals selected/voted upon within a certain community or neighborhood. These individuals work together to oversee the upkeep and maintenance of common areas of the neighborhood including shared roads, clubhouses, pools, and neighborhood entrances. The board of directors in the HOA also manage the neighborhood finances, set and enforce neighborhood bylaws (rules), and ensure that a neighborhood is a safe and pleasant place to call home.

Let’s break those down a little further.

Rules:

  1. Determine, approve, and enforce the covenants, rules, and bylaws of the neighborhood as laid out in the neighborhood association documents.
  2. Review and resolve any complaints made against fellow neighborhood residents.
  3. Appoint committees of the neighborhood (neighborhood watch, landscape planters, neighborhood cookout committees) and delegate tasks to said committees.

Meetings: Majority of HOAs hold bi-annual or annual meetings.

  1. The HOA holds meetings for the neighborhood residents to get together and vote on important neighborhood matters, issues, and proposals (i.e. do we get a pool, are fences allowed, etc.)
  2. The HOA also holds meetings just for the board of directors within the HOA. This allows the board to discuss topical issues, complaints and how to address them, etc. prior to bringing about solutions and resolutions to the neighborhood occupants.

Finances: Living in a neighborhood that operates outside of public roads means that there will need to be finances involved since the neighborhood maintains itself internally.

  1. The HOA works on setting a budget each year using input from the neighborhood residents.
  2. Financial records are kept showing what has been spent where and how much money is left for possible upgrades along with further maintenance for the year.
  3. With an HOA usually comes yearly or monthly dues that are paid to the home owners association. These dues contribute to the maintenance and utilities of the neighborhood. If you live in a condominium, many times these dues will cover the cost of some of your personal home utilities like trash, water, and/or electric.
  4. Sometimes neighborhoods need to consult with a professional attorney, accountant, or other business professional. HOAs exist to facilitate this communication along with allocate funds to pay for these services.

Maintenance: 

  1. As previously discussed, the HOA takes fees to pay for maintenance. These are then budgeted for general maintenance along with repairs of any communal neighborhood spaces.
  2. The HOA will also respond to any neighborhood emergencies that occur within shared spaces.
  3. If repairs are needed, the HOA will collect bids from contractors and choose one to fix something in need of repair or general maintenance throughout the year.

Now that we understand some of the duties and need for a neighborhood to have a home owners association, what are the pros and cons of having an HOA?

Pros:

  1. They keep the neighborhood clean, safe, and help to preserve property value and safeguard investments.
  2. The money collected is used to improve the neighborhood, maintain the wellbeing of the neighborhood, and add more amenities to the neighborhood.
  3. The rules, covenants, bylaws, restrictions, and conditions determined by the HOA help to maintain property value, create a safe place to live, and increase the curb appeal in a neighborhood for potential buyers (i.e. a homeowner cannot just collect junk on their front lawn).

Cons: 

  1. Some HOAs propose strict rules and restrictions. If you live in a community with rules, you are expected to follow them; otherwise, there can be a penalty you must face for breaking them. These penalties can range from a warning, to a fine, or even foreclosure if a homeowner refuses to pay his or her HOA dues. However, these things are easily preventable by reading your association paperwork prior to purchasing a home to ensure you agree with the laid out rules, restrictions, covenants, and bylaws of a neighborhood prior to becoming a resident.

As long as you as a resident understand and follow the rules and pay your dues in a timely manner, your experience with living in a neighborhood with an HOA will be nothing short of splendid!

 

 

There have already been sightings of snow here in West Michigan! This means that winter is right around the corner. As a home owner, there are some important steps to prepare your home and your wallet for the Michigan winter weather.

  1. Sprinkler lines – If you have not already, blow out your underground sprinkler lines and above ground hoses to avoid them cracking from water freezing in the cold weather. 
  2. Seal up drafts – Your warm heated air can leak out and let in the cold, which can create irregular drafts and temperatures in the home as well as create a dent in your monthly energy bill. Removing AC window units, placing a draft stopper (or a towel) under a drafty door/window, ensuring ducts are properly sealed, and placing insulation around window edges will help to minimize the heat leaving and cold entering your home. 
  3. Ceiling fans – Many ceiling fans have the ability to run blades in reverse/clockwise, which makes it warmer. As hot air rises, this will allow the hot air to circulate back into the room to make your home warmer and save energy. 
  4. Furnace filters – Changing your furnace filters on a monthly basis during heating season will increase air flow and minimize your energy usage. Helpful tip: put a reminder in your calendar to do this once a month so that you do not forget. 
  5. Water heater – Lowering your water heater to 120 degrees can help to decrease the cost of your monthly bills by as much as 10%. 
  6. Thermostat – Reducing the temperature of your home by even one degree can easily shave 1-3% off your heating bill each month. Put on a sweater or cozy up under a blanket instead of heating that extra couple of degrees to save some serious bucks. 
  7. Emergency back up – The weather can change quickly in West Michigan! It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to precautions. Be sure to have batteries, flashlights, and candles on hand in case of a power outage. Having other items like canned food and camping cooking equipment nearby will ensure a warm meal even with no power. Lastly, an additional item to consider would be a back up generator to keep the utilities in the home up and running in case of a power outage due to a winter storm. 
  8. Upgrade – Do you have an older furnace? Upgrading your furnace to a newer, more energy efficient model can help to save you lots of money over the course of the winter and lifetime of the furnace. 

Doing these things can help to save you extra money in repairs and extra money in your wallet over the course of the upcoming Michigan winter weather!

The Kyle Geenen Group had a great summer! As we change seasons into Autumn, we wanted to look back on some of our highlights of the summer as a team. We partnered with various organizations for two events this summer as a way to give back to our amazing West Michigan Community.

The first event was a public event called, “Dogs & Donuts.” Geenen Group partnered with Pet Gotcha Day to connect adorable, adoptable pets with their forever families. Pet Gotcha Day is an organization that utilizes VR headsets and 360 videos to show an adoptable pet’s personality. We worked together to get local shelters and rescues including Harbor Humane Society, Best Pals Animal Rescue, Tyson’s Place Animal Rescue, and Wishbone Pet Rescue to bring adoptable pets like puppies, dogs, kittens, and cats to our office on Ottawa Beach Rd. The general public was invited and the turnout was spectacular! Eleven pets were adopted, many applications were submitted, and awareness of the need for pet adoptions and the organizations involved in the event was heightened.

Click here to see a video about the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9HQoRoUkeo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second event was for our past clients called, “BBQ and Backpacks.” Geenen Group partnered with Women in Transition, Shoemaker Inspections, and Travis Gregg at Huntington Bank to collect backpacks and school supplies for children in need within the community. Our past clients got to come and enjoy time with their families at Tunnel Park, along with delicious food from Hog Wild BBQ. The Geenen Group donated 24 backpacks and various school supplies, and our past clients donated some backpacks and school supplies as well.

In your home buying process, you may decide that you want to build a home rather than purchase a move-in-ready home. There are many steps in the building process, and doing them in a certain order can make the whole process more smooth and stress-free. Here is what we recommend you do for a hassle-free building process.

  1. Choose an architect – Choosing an architect first, rather than a builder, means the first step in your home building process is capturing your vision. You will plan your home design, look at the specs, and find put together exactly what you want in your home.
  2. Choose a builder – Once you have your dream home drafted up on paper, you should choose a builder. You can then have a plan ready to present to a builder to get estimates and feedback when determining what builder to use. Having met with the architect, pick a builder that reflects your vision in the quality of their work. In addition, having these plans ready will allow a builder to give you a more accurate timeline, cost, and determine compatibility with said builder.
  3. Lot search – Many people search for a vacant piece of land/lot prior to meeting with an architect or builder. However, by having your dream home drafted by an architect and a builder picked, you can weed out the lots that do not fit into the budget or design plan. You should pick a lot that has a desirable location to increase your home value. by picking out a builder prior to a lot, you are able to consult your builder on lot options because there could be additional fees if trees need to be removed, water and sewer need to be added in, etc.

After you have found an architect, builder, and a lot, the process of getting the land ready and beginning construction takes place. The timeline for this can vary depending on how much work the lot needs prior to construction starting. If you do not know of any architects or builders, our team is more than happy to provide you will recommendations and then help you find the perfect piece of land to build your home!

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